Nothing like getting knocked back a few pegs in the last week to remind you that you’re on a long road toward any kind of normalcy. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m feeling totally lost. I’m trying not to hold in so much anger at the world either, but this year has totally knocked the wind out of me and it started months before it culminated in our loss. I don’t really know who I am right now; I don’t even know what identity the business is anymore. We’re barely keeping afloat.
Can I tell you a little story? A few weeks before our trip in early August, the girls and I were doing errands in the neighborhood. As we were walking on the sidewalk down our block, I saw a tiny fuzzy green line on the street close to the curb. I looked closely again and realized that the fuzzy green line was moving and that it was actually a caterpillar. Have you ever seen a caterpillar cross a busy intersection? Because I haven’t! I pointed the caterpillar out to the kids and we watched for a minute as it inched its way across. We kept our eye on him as we crossed the street from the other side of the intersection and was surprised that the caterpillar was still visible to us. Incredibly, we could still see the fuzzy green line move from several dozen feet away. As it inched its tiny body halfway across the street (the caterpillar could crawl faster that you’d think) we saw a car rambling towards us right on the street that the caterpillar was crossing and we squealed, hoping that it wouldn’t get crushed. We held our breath as the car passed the light. Was the caterpillar still alive? Oh wait, there was the tiny green line…and yes! It was still moving! But, oh no! Another car was coming down the street. We held our breath again and when it passed, we waited to see if the caterpillar was still there and we cheered when we saw it moving again.
We couldn’t take the stress anymore after the 4th car had passed, so we crossed the street where the caterpillar was headed and I looked for a twig. At that point the caterpillar had crossed two-thirds of the street by itself, but I just wanted to scoop him up and carry him the rest of the way. I walked off the curb and approached the caterpillar with the twig. After a bit of finessing and a fall from the twig where he curled himself up in a little ball, he climbed and stayed on. I carefully walked toward the sidewalk with the caterpillar on the twig and found a leafy place under a tree on someone’s front yard. We named him “Furbert” and nudged him off the stick and watched him crawl away under the leaves.
As we went about doing our errands that day, the girls would ask me why the caterpillar decided to cross the street. Did he know he was entering a dangerous and hostile environment? Was there something on the other side that he was looking for? Or maybe he was a brave caterpillar just looking for an adventure! I think you may know where this is headed, and as cheesy as it may be to completely spin this story into a “fable” of sorts, I’m totally going there because I’m sure we can all relate to that little caterpillar at certain points in our lives. Because that’s kind of how I’m feeling like my year has been, exposed in the wide open dodging bullets that seemingly come out of nowhere. In my case, I got steam rolled by one of those bullets and I’ve been down for the count, but I’m slowly inching my way to the other side. I wouldn’t mind a little help sometimes. My family could use a dose of luck or good fortune, but I know ultimately this work needs to come from myself. Who knows what the other side looks like? I suppose that’s the beauty and mystery of it all.
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The first day of homework and with it, homework drama. Oh right…totally forgot about this part of school; I didn’t miss it over the summer. But here we are and I suppose the kids need to adjust back to school routines too – it’s an adjustment for us all. This Fall we’ll be entrenched in middle school applications: school tours, interviews for the kid and a lot of hand wringing. This is what happens when families stop moving to the suburbs – not enough spaces in the city schools, and so it’s like a fierce competition. All these Brooklyn families in our public school district fighting for a seat in middle school. It’s not stressful at all (that was sarcasm if you couldn’t tell). Lord, help us.
In other mundane life news, I started exercising again. I basically stopped any kind of physical activity over the summer. I became a lump on the bed or the couch (more so than usual) and if I was at the office, I became a lump on a chair. I’m blaming all of this on the grieving process, but I’m slowly shaking it off. It almost feels like I pushed some sort of reset button on life after the summer and things are moving again. Do I need a fitbit?
Speaking of vanity, Fall is the season when I get the most obsessed with clothes and fashion. There isn’t much of a Fall clothing budget to speak of this year (hello, braces for the 10 year old), but I do love to window shop on the internet and look at all the pretty things. I’m also “guest” pinning my favorite looks from New York Fashion Week day by day over here. Please follow along as I’ll be pinning from other design, fashion and food events around the world as they happen. I know, I know. I’ve come over from the dark side of Pinterest ambivalence and have even been more active on my own Pinterest account. What is this world coming to?
P.S. Those pencils up there? Those are just some from my pencil collection that I’ve had since high school. Do you know how old that makes them??
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The golden hour is usually stunning anywhere you are, but we had some really good ones out West. We ended our trip with a spectacular sunset on the pier and watched the sun disappear behind the mountains (we always try to end our trips out west with a water view and a sunset). Our time out here for me was bittersweet. My brother talked of wanting to move to Seattle in the last few months of his life. We talked about how nice it would be if we all eventually ended up in the same area, all of us old and retired sitting on lawn chairs with our garden gnomes, eating blackberry cobbler. I really wish he had made the move and I thought about what could have been as we watched the sunset. A fitting end, really, to summer.
Now back at home with school finally in session and September upon us, summer isn’t letting go quite so easily. It’s been hot – hotter than it’s been all summer – and while I’m not necessarily in a rush to usher in Fall, the weather does seem to contradict everything that Fall represents. I didn’t think I wanted summer to end, but now that September is here, I’m feeling that restlessness and surge of motivation that seem to surface this month every year. Also, boots. I love sandals, but I can’t wait to wear boots. Oh, the frivolous things.
So, along with all this seasonal motivation comes along this feeling that maybe the fog of summer is starting to lift. It’s like this: I woke up one day and realized that I didn’t have that weird and sudden social anxiety around people and friends anymore. I started to think again about project ideas that I abandoned late May when everything came apart. I still think about my brother everyday, but it feels less like a dark cloud even though it’s still an empty hole. I suppose this is progress. The time warp of summer was such a strange experience and I floated like a ghost for 3 months without ever really touching the ground. Now that I’m much more present, the stuff that I put aside still remains. All the big questions about life and work are looming large again. I think I’m finally ready to face them though.
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People sometimes ask me which city I like more, Seattle or NY, and it always strikes me as a funny question since neither city is like the other and they represent different things to me. It’s been interesting to see how Seattle has changed over the years. It’s not like witnessing the changes in New York which I can track over the course of time if my path crosses certain sites often enough (likewise, I get to watch quite a number of buildings go up from the view way up from the office). In Seattle, we often time lapse into those changes on our visits every year. New buildings pop up or we can see how a whole neighborhood like South Lake Union develops from year to year (the amount of construction in this neighborhood right now is crazy). My reference point for some of these changes in urban landscape are almost as old as New York; sometimes Seattle bears little resemblance to the place that I remember from the early 90s. I sometimes struggle to find the spots we used to go to or name the 24 hr joints we used to haunt; there weren’t too many back then and there are even fewer now, but the past is often a blur at this point.
Every year I check the real estate listings to keep tabs on neighborhoods I’m interested in. The loose plan to retire in the NW is still the plan. Besides, who doesn’t like looking at real estate? I’ve been seeing prices in Seattle creep steadily up, but noticed a remarkable jump in prices this year. So many condos and new buildings on the market too. Seattle has never been cheap. New York real estate prices still blow every city out of the water except maybe San Francisco, so “cheap” is relative, but the gap between the 2 cities has gotten smaller this year. I wonder what another 5 years will bring?
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It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a view like this. A view where you can almost see the curvature of the earth and watch the sun go down on one end while tracking the movement of the shadows traveling across the mountains on the other. It has a way of making you feel very small.
It’s been harder here to ignore my thoughts, looking out into the water, seeing the landscape of the trees, the gradation of the mountains in the distance, and reliving some memories from times past. It’s easier to coast by in the city, whether in NY or Seattle, where you’re caught up in the rush of movement and lights and just “stuff” everywhere. It’s a distraction and it’s been a welcome one.
But I can’t always run away. Surrounded by lots of family on this trip I felt more alone than I had in awhile. Is that weird? It wasn’t exactly what I expected and it was hard. I’ve let go of any expectations that my reactions or emotions right now are rational. To surrender to your feelings is humbling in a way because we don’t always have control over them, do we?
And a view like this reminds me that there’s more out there. More places to see, more memories to be made, more life.
*Photos from Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island.
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